Letters to the Editor
May 1, 2014

To the Editor:
I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of those who contributed to the success of Fillmore High School's sixteenth annual arts show “Euphoria”. It takes a lot of people and a lot of hard work, dedication and talent to coordinate an event such as this. Thank you to Fillmore Ebell Club, Fillmore Lions Club, Fillmore Women’s Service Club, Soroptomist International of Fillmore, Fillmore Rotary Club and Fillmore High School ASB for your donations which help to make this event possible. Thank you to Lucy for being a patron of this event. To the staff and teachers at FHS who supported the student’s efforts and allowed students to take part in hanging the show…To the custodial staff , Baldo and Johnny- thanks for your help. Thank you to Max and Susan Pina, and to the students who stayed late to break down the show and clean up after the event. I am so appreciative of your help.
Special thanks to Greg Godfrey and the fantastic members of the Fillmore High School Concert Band who played at the event- the musical concert helped to make the evening a resounding success… To Mary Ellen Wortham and FHS photography department for your photos. … To Josh Overton and the drama department for their outstanding performances. Thank you to the parents and the community who attended the show and helped to make this a special night for the students. Last, but not least, to all the student artists, photographers, actors, and musicians who put in numerous hours preparing for this event, hosting and cleaning up after a long day and night- especially my Art students and former students who came back to help- thank you- without you there couldn't be a show. I am very proud of all of you.
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Fillmore High School Art Department

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To the Editor:
On Friday April 25th Fillmore FFA and Rotary Club of Fillmore hosted an exciting evening of casino fun. This event drew over 150 guests who attended for some great food, drinks and friendly Casino fun. This could not have been possible if it were not for our generous Casino Night sponsors, as well as all the community members who came out to support the event. The money raised will go towards helping both organizations with funding yearly scholarships to our local students and many other projects that help the community.
We would like to thank the following Sponsors, Wm L. Morris, Bill and Chappy Morris, Aguirre financial & insurance services, Barkley insurance, Scott & Laura Beylik, Edward Jones Investments, Fillmore Rental, Fillmore Air Conditioning & Heating, KLS, Jan Marholin, McGrath family, Murphy Pump & Well Service, Old Fashion Country Butcher, Otto & Sons Nursery, Oxnard Lemon, Palmer Farm Management, Peterson Family, Quality Ag, RMP services, Somers Ranches, Titan Tactical products & solutions, Water Art Design, Valley Tractor, Ventura County Deputy Sheriff Assoc., Jenifer Yeargen. We would also like to thank all the business and individuals who donated raffle prizes.
Rotary club of Fillmore, Rigo Landeros, President Fillmore FFA boosters, Scott Beylik
President

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To the Editor:
The membership and board of directors of the Fillmore Historical Museum were pleased yesterday, April 22, to receive an extremely generous donation of $20,000.00 from the ladies of the Fillmore Ebell Club. The buildings and collection of artifacts of the museum represent the shared history of Fillmore, Piru, Sespe and Bardsdale. Their donation will help assure the continued operation of the museum and assist us in our mission to collect, protect, and display these historic artifacts and buildings. We sincerely thank them for their support of the museum.
It is our hope that all members of our community will take the opportunity during this year’s centennial of Fillmore’s incorporation to visit the museum and learn about our fascinating, more than 127 year history.
Thank you
Martha Gentry
Executive Director
Fillmore Historical Museum

 


 
Letters to the Editor
April 24, 2014

To the Editor:
Chapter 3 Chevron superfund site.
Well I hope that many of you had a wonderful Easter holiday, mine was good but of course it had the always underlining presence of Chevron. As we stepped outside into our backyard to hunt Easter eggs we once again had the odor of petroleum, a dirty gym locker and bad foot odor. Lucky for us we had plans to visit family else were. The last Chevron meeting was an interesting one, of the EPA letting us know that we are all safe and that they recommend people are not on site 24/7 for 70 years but that it would be o.k. for people to work 5 days a week for 8 hours a day. I hope that no one plans on working overtime or on weekends in the superfund business and industrial park. As they were working on drainage this month they found more dabree (brick pit and stuff) that they are working on. Thus the smell is back. I had a question of concern about the possibility of contaminated soils entering pole creek during our last rains and if they posed a danger to the homes and school down stream and was told by EPA that there was no problem. I was abruptly told by a Chevron rep that it was not possible for that to happen, but as I showed pictures of just that happening another Chevron rep did acknowledge the problem and said that it was taken care of. Yah, on Monday when they started their work week. The pictures were taken Saturday and it rained until Sunday. There were comments on the size of the 20 foot hill behind some of the neighbor’s homes, and their feelings that all was not on the up and up.
I talk with many people about this subject and a retired fireman brought up a new concern to me the other day. If Chevron has its way and we allow them to bring in light industry into this area it may be a big issue one day. Now many of you know this hill on the east side of Fillmore has been known to catch fire about every 5-10 years, now put that with many businesses some of which will no doughtily have permits for a few gallons of toxic or flammable chemicals of all different kinds (since we have no idea who all will be there renting) put these together and we are just asking for trouble. I was told by an official I was talking to the other day that there would be distance from the hill area and the site. Well, I have lived on this street and watch it burn down the hill jump across Pole Creek catch fire in a tree on the east side of Island View and then jump the street and start a fire in my neighbors gutter. So I am thinking this is a serious concern. Now I have been told that I need to accept what is going on and that we the citizens (neighbors) of Fillmore have no say in this, I say we do. What would be best for Fillmore would be to fill the empty lots along the 126 to show we have progress and not that we are struggling. We need to fill the empty business buildings through out our town to boost revenue and after these both have been done first and if our city can support it financially then we should then and only then ponder the idea of the Chevron site plan. It is in my opinion in a poor location filled with fault line issues, ancient mudslide history and on top of a superfund site. Not sure how many people will want to work or bring there lively hood into such an area.
We will be having another meeting tonight Thursday April 24, 2014 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the senior center. We will discuss risk assessments.
Hope to see you there,
Kathy Pace

 

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Letters to the Editor
April 17, 2014

To the Editor:
Mary Ford, you have no integrity
Before I begin I need to make it clear, I am not speaking for the School Board or the District only as one Board Member of Five.
Once again, the anointed one, the oracle of Fillmore has spoken. The Gazette, Mr. Ashim, and Mary Ford have incorrectly described a letter that I received from the Office of the District Attorney. The letter was not a "reprimand" as stated. The dictionary defines reprimand as "a severe or formal rebuke". The letter from Michael D. Schwartz, Special Assistant District Attorney, states "This letter should serve as a reminder as to the public's rights under the Brown Act." My actions in that particular situation were not arrogant or extreme rudeness it was a mistake on my part and I own it. but for you to make it more than it was shows a lack of integrity.
You mention Mr. Mesfun and legal documents, there was no guilt found, only a settlement out of court. Is it possibles that Mr. Mesfun was holding teachers accountable and some ineffective, below average teachers decided to retaliate against him? Mr. Mesfun has a reputation of weeding out weak and ineffective teachers and that is why he was brought to Fillmore High School. You also mention Dr. Nishino"s accomplishments, schools that are failing, failed policies, distrust and fear among teachers , the legality of his contract. Before Dr. Nishino came to Fillmore all of our schools were in Program Improvement for well over five years. This was not his fault, he inherited a bad situation. The District was in danger of being taken over by the State. He and Mr. Johnson prevented the state from taking over the District. The Alternative Governance Board saved the District, an idea presented to the Board by Board Member Dave Wilde and Mr. Schieferly. When it comes to fear and distrust I will keep it simple, accountability and effectiveness in the classroom, I will leave the rest to your imagination! Dr. Nishino's contract is a public document, which has been reviewed by our attorneys. Mrs. Ford, all you have to do is do your homework.
Gate keeper yes, racist no. Let me be clear, I have never and do not ever believe Mr. and Mrs. Ashim to be racist. Your imagination and emotions have gotten the best of you. My comments were not designed to create an us versus them or white against Mexican or African American. Your last paragraph does nothing more than to incite people's emotions by raising the issue of racism. Is it your goal to stir the community with your insinuations? Many times I have personally congratulated you on your "Pride in America" program at the Middle School. But since your retirement when have you taken the time to talk to me about issues burning in your mind? When have you tried to understand the other side of the issue? When have you tried to take me aside and say, explain to me what this is all about?
In light of the season I am compelled to believe it is time to stop this nonsense of bickering and negative comments. We all have strong convictions about who has the greater virtue or moral excellence. In a conciliatory gesture I have come to the conclusion that it is time to forgive, for all to stop the anger and resentment towards one another. It is in my nature to speak my mind and say it like it is even if it hurts, but I can also be kind and respectful. Today is Holy Thursday and tomorrow Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ was sacrificed for all the sins humans have committed. And two days later, Easter Sunday, the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. Therefore, since we all have the same goal, to do what is best for all the students of this District, it is incumbent to work towards this end. So I say to Mary Ford, the Ashims and others, God Bless You, and most of all, God Bless America.
Tony Prado
School Board Member

 


 
Letters to the Editor
April 10, 2014

To the Editor:
Mr. Prado, you have no dignity.
As a long time member of the Fillmore Unified School District Board of Education, you are certainly aware of the dictates of the Brown Act. At the March 18 Board meeting, you exhibited arrogant disregard of this law and such extreme rudeness that the office of the Ventura County District Attorney was compelled to issue a Letter of Reprimand.
Rather than apologize for embarrassing the Board, the School District, and the people of Fillmore, you chose to blame Karen Ashim, the recently retired high school head counselor, and attempted to assassinate her character. You claim that Mrs. Ashim and her husband have “recklessly damaged” the reputation of Mr. Mesfun, the high school principal. According to legal documents, Mr. Mesfun accomplished this himself. You said that the Ashims had “distorted” Superintendent Nishino’s accomplishments. What has he accomplished in Fillmore? Schools that are failing, students in danger of not graduating because of failed policies, an atmosphere of distrust and fear among teachers and staff, and unanswered questions about the legality of his compensation. You also claim that they have “maligned” the Board. I regret that the Board needed no help in maligning themselves.
Mrs. Ashim’s attendance at Board meetings is motivated by her desire to continue to help students. I applaud her persistence and her courage. Unfortunately, as this Superintendent and Board have often demonstrated, in this district, courage is a punishable offense. She has done nothing of which to be ashamed. Mr. Prado, you had the audacity to suggest that she is racist and even used the phrase “high tech lynching”. For this you should be ashamed. You imply that she purposely didn’t allow certain Mexican students to take AP courses. With a student population of 86% Hispanic students, it would be impossible to deny entry into these classes based on race. Was she a “Gate Keeper”? No, she encouraged all students to take courses that challenged them. There are only so many AP classes. There are only so many students capable of success in these classes. Were mistakes made? Undoubtedly, she is only human. I thought you were above the indecent claim of racism in any non-Hispanic who didn’t agree with you. I regret that I was mistaken. Lastly, Mrs. Ashim deserves more respect than to be referred to as “this woman” which you did twelve times in your diatribe. It convinces me that my contention is accurate.
Mr. Prado, you have no dignity.
Mary Ford

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To the Editor:
I would like to thank the members of the Rotary Club of Fillmore for their generous donation of $100 to help with this year Arts Show. The donation will go towards the expenses of putting on this years’ event “Euphoria” scheduled for Thursday April 10th at the Memorial Building.
On behalf of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Fillmore High School, thank you!
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Visual Arts
Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair
Fillmore High School

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To the Editor:
I would like to thank the members of the Ebell Club of Fillmore for their generous donation of $1000. The donation will help our department with not only this years expenses, but for future art shows as well. The members of the Ebell club have given generously over the years to the Fillmore High School Visual and Performing Arts programs. Thank you for all you have done.
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Visual Arts
Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair
Fillmore High School

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To the Editor,
I have known Mr. Russom Mesfun for the past 5 years and I have been fortunate to work with him on a variety of school safety and beautification projects while he and I were at Montera Middle School in Oakland, California. At that time he was the Principal and I was the Chairperson for Emergency Preparedness and VP of Facilities on the PTO board. Together we achieved many improvements that still remain in place to this day. I consider these to be testaments to the validity of our common goals. Those being both the safety of the students and the quality of the school campus environment.
Just to give you a brief background on myself I have been involved in emergency preparedness with schools for many years. I feel it is a need that is for the most part left unattended. I am certified by the State of California as an Emergency Management Specialist and I have managed the Community Emergency Response Program for the Oakland Fire Department which is responsible for a population of 400,000 people. While that program encompasses a variety of avenues, the schools were always my personal preference. When my daughter first started at Montera I was a bit apprehensive of the school . This stemming from the fact that my daughter was coming from a private school and entering a public one . There were no specific reasons attributed to this. It was just a different environment. I will be the first to admit almost immediately, Mr. Mesfun reassured me that I had made the right choice. Not by his words , but by his actions. To give you an example of what I mean, I was on campus the first week of school and I happened to observe him during a lunch period sitting and talking with the students for most of the duration of that period. I had never seen a principal do that before. I have been around many schools in the past where the principal had no visible presence for the entire day. I also noticed as the days passed when I was there that Mr. Mesfun had an easy rapport with the students. He really does care about each individual student.
When I offered to oversee Montera’s emergency preparedness. I can say that right from the very beginning Mr. Mesfun was both supportive and accommodating. We met and discussed what we both had as expectations and as things would go we were both on the same page with student safety being the main focus. He was always willing to listen to my recommendations and place his trust in my actions. From granting me permission to move forward with an idea, to supporting each other at the PTO board meetings with the other members as well as the regular PTO meetings with the school community, to enlisting the aid of the faculty and staff in a support role for a variety of projects. I will honestly say that if it were not for Russom Mesfun I would not have been able to implement the majority of the items that I / we put in place. Here are some examples of his supportive efforts as they pertained to my roles When I reviewed the existing emergency supplies I found most of them were expired. After I acquired funding through the PTO for the updating of those supplies, Mr. Mesfun did not intervene but rather he allowed me to formulate an inventory list and purchase them. On another occasion I suggested we secure another storage container to house additional supplies. He was in favor of that and as a result I secured a second one. On another occasion I approached him and asked if we could schedule a series of disaster preparedness training classes for the teachers and staff. He assisted in that process by making it a mandatory training for all faculty members It became an annual event. When the Oakland Fire Department was searching for a venue to hold their Annual Citywide Emergency Drill debriefing session I approached Mr. Mesfun and he graciously offered the school as a host site.
While my primary focus was on student safety as VP of facilities I was tasked with other projects that yield themselves more along the lines of campus improvements. Projects such as campus beautification , decorative landscaping, benches for the students to use during lunch and break periods. Displaying school banners and art around the campus buildings. Installing a safety “cage” around an exposed gas valve setup. I had suggested we set up a PTO board room where the PTO could hold meetings and store any board related items. Mr. Mesfun was in full support of the idea and secured a storage room which we converted for that purpose. The largest project we worked on together was the acquisition and installation of a campus video surveillance system. He was involved in the planning process as well as the installation portion of it which involved an ongoing collaboration with the vendor. We established a teachers lounge adjacent to the main kitchen area. He supported another parent who established a parent patrol to oversee various areas of the campus. We collaborated on a jacket design and as a result purchased team jackets which served as both a determent and patrol identifier for the students.
As I was on site on a regular basis I was able to see Mr.Mesfun in all aspects of his role as a principal. Most of which did not relate to myself. When there was an issue between two students he always handled it in a fair and professional manner. Some principals would just go to extreme measures such as the use of suspensions to attempt to set an example. Mr.Mesfun would prefer to meet with the parents of both students in an effort to resolve the matter in a more amiable way . While I did mention this previously I would like to reiterate the fact that he genuinely cares about his students and has a driving desire to help them in whatever their need is. On a daily basis he would be out in front of the school both before and after school to direct traffic away and act as a crossing guard to ensure the students were safe. He routinely sat in on classes and observed the teachers to ensure they were adhering to the curriculum
Although I have given numerous examples of ways Mr.Mesfun improved the quality of Montera Middle School, these are primarily related to the area I was involved in. He was equally supportive in every other aspect of the school as well whether it be academics, sports, or the surrounding community. As a result Montera Middle School was awarded the Distinguished School Award by the State of California in 2011.It is worth noting that it was the only middle school to receive the award that year. This brings me back to what I mentioned at the start. Because of the leadership of Russom Mesfun as Principal at Montera, my daughter not only had an easy transition as she entered into the school but over the course of her time there was able to flourish intellectually.
In closing I would like to state that during the course of the three years that I was involved with Montera I have always seen Russom Mesfun conduct himself in a professional manner regardless of the task at hand and he has always had the best interest of the students as his number one priority. I can honestly say the it has been a privilege to work with him and an honor to consider him a friend. If you would like additional information feel free to call me at 510-333-3650
Sincerely,
A Grateful Montera Parent
Jeff Morelli

 
Letters to the Editor
April 03, 2014

To the Editor:
Half Truths and Disinformation
Before I begin I need to make it clear, I am not speaking for the School Board or the District only as one Board Member of five.
Mr. Ashim and Mrs. Ashim, over the past few months have been writing in the Gazzette half truths and disinformation and have not been challenged. In his last diatribe this man is asking for an apology from me. In reality this man and that woman should be asking the Fillmore community for forgiveness. They have managed to recklessly damage the reputation of Mr. Mesfun the high school Principal, they have maligned the school board, they have distorted Dr. Nishino"s past and present record as a superintendent and they have brought embarrassment to the Fillmore Unified School District, shame on them! In his last letter to the editor, Mr. Ashim stated half truths about the board meeting which he was recording. This man accused me of not allowing his wife to address the Board. That fact is she had a request to address the Board and as acting President I was required to do so. There was never any attempt to deny her that opportunity. The mistake I made was to tell her not to make any speeches or comments, she could only ask questions to the Board.
When she began to ask her questions about the high school accreditation I stopped her and asked if she had put these questions to the Principal? Her reply was no. I told her that it would be more appropriate if she ran these questions to Mr. Mesfun before coming to the Board. In my estimation this woman was attempting to discredit Mr. Mesfun. At that moment Mr. Mefun asked to respond to this woman's questions. Part of his response was about a parent committee and his desire to ask parents to serve. At that moment Mrs. Wright, a high school parent spoke up that she had not been asked. That is when I asked her if she wanted to be asked. She said yes. So I told Mr. Mefun there you have a parent for your committee. If you read Mr. Ashim's version of what happened at the Board meeting , the reader would get half truths and a distorted version of what took place.
In past issues of the Gazzette this man and this woman have launched wholly unfounded inflammatory accusations, aimed at distorting Mr. Mefun's leadership of Fillmore High School. At best this woman has subjected Mr. Mesfun to character assassination or as some would say a "high tech lynching", shame on her! This woman has accused the Principal of showing a lack leadership when it comes to the accreditation process when in reality she failed Fillmore High School's Accreditation process six years ago. At that time she was a counselor and volunteered to lead the Accreditation Team. She accepted the position knowing there was another position of assistant principal available at the High School. When Mr. Wilbur, the principal, declined her request to be appointed assistant principal she also refused to continue as Accreditation Team leader. The High School, because of this woman's ego, was forced to ask for a one year delay on Accreditation. Lucky for the High School when they hired Ellen Green as Assistant Principal. She picked up the pieces left by this woman and wrote a report that gave the High School a six year Accreditation.
For some time this woman, Karim Ashim, has been referred as the "Gate Keeper", the counselor who decides which students will have the opportunity to take Advance Placement courses, Honors courses, College Prep courses or general courses. Many times this woman had denied students the opportunity to challenge themselves. Many times parents had to demand their high school student be given an opportunity to take the more demanding courses. Imagine the parents who allowed this woman to deprive their sons and daughters of a better education. This woman's belief was to graduate as many students as possible to keep the graduation rate high and the drop -out rate low. The excuse is some students do not have the skills to function in those higher level courses, but too often teachers want the best of the best in those higher level courses, in essence depriving opportunity, especially minority students and the advocate for those students should be the counselor. I have had parents speak to me about the "Gate Keeper" and their negative experiences and my response has always been do not give up! Unfortunately many Mexican parents rely on the integrity of the this women who on too many occassions has failed them.
I could go on and on about this woman and describe my own personal experiences when my children were in high school, maybe another day. I have no interest in a verbal battle with these two caricatures, but I will set the record straight. An apology no, unsolicited advise, it is time for the two of them to stay out of Fillmore, take your criticism to your home town of Thousand Oaks, make the best of your retirement and enjoy life!
Tony Prado
School Board Member

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To The Editor:
Re: Dr. G. Sanchez & Wonderfull Staff, C,M,M,M,and P.
It's always a pleasure to come in and see All..Weather it's for a pleasure visit or dental visit. You all have known me for a short time and I hope you know me as a person who is enjoying life.With that said..Dr.G.Sanchez and Wonderfull Staff, really knocked my sock,s off. Never in my old life have I been moved to shear happiness as I was by your thoughtfulness and kindness shown to me on that day, My Birthday. Words can't begin to express how your surprise set my day an spirits as one of the better days in my old life.I am humbled that you should hold me in such a place as to do this surprise for me. From the bottom of my old heart ,I can only say " Thank You All".Sincerely,
Raul M.Torres
El Dorado Estate.
Fillmore, Cal

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To The Editor:
In the last week I have seen the bridge over the Santa Clara River referred to as the “A” St. Bridge (the article regarding the dog attack and shooting) and the Grimes Canyon Bridge (article on the fire). Since 1909 that bridge has been known as the Bardsdale Bridge. Those of us who live in Bardsdale and cross it sometimes multiple times in a day would like to see it referred to by its correct name in the future.
Sincerely,
Martha Gentry
Bardsdale Resident

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To the Editor:
Fillmore High School Sports Hall-of-Fame would like to express our gratitude to the people and businesses that helped make this year’s golf tournament a success. Our corporate sponsors, Harrison Industries, Lexicon, Wm. L. Morris and Kevin Gross. Our tee sponsors Matt & Corina Mozley, Fillmore High School Alumni Association, Fillmore-Piru Citrus, Curnett Investigations, Steve Dann, Fillmore Rentals, City National Bank, CTP Solutions, Laird’s Butcher Shop, Cookie Lee Jewelry (Ari Larson) and Edmonds Ranch. Those that donated raffle prizes, Mike Marostica, El Pescador, Kevin Gross, Starbucks, Carl’s Jr., Elkins Ranch Golf Course, Attractions Spa, Lexicon, Jiffy Lube and Fillmore High School Pep Squad. Lastly to the business/individuals that sponsored players and/or teams, Elkins Ranch Golf Course, First Baptist Church, Bob’s Radiator & Repair, Inc., Vest Electric, Ace Pump and Quality Ag.
Fillmore High School Sports Hall-of-Fame Board Members

 
Letters to the Editor
March 27, 2014

To the Editor:
School Board member Tony Prado owes a public apology to Mrs. Sherri Wright and Mrs. Karen Ashim, my wife, for the treatment they received at the November 18th board meeting. Neither of these ladies has anything to personally gain from attending these meetings and speaking up. They do these things out of a sense of obligation to the public and teachers, staff and students at Fillmore High School.
Mrs. Wright was publicly bullied by Mr. Prado into volunteering to join the WASC team. When the subject of parent involvement in the WASC process came up, Mrs. Wright was singled out. Mr. Prado loudly proclaimed, “Do you wanna be asked?” Her response was cutoff with him saying, “I'm asking you, do you wanna be asked?” She had no real option except to say yes. She is an active participant in school activities and likely would willingly participate in the WASC process if properly asked. But the invitation should be made in private, with a full explanation of what is expected, so she could carefully consider whether or not she could fulfill the duties required.
Mr. Prado ignored the Brown Act when he did not call on Mrs. Ashim to speak according the FUSD procedures. Additionally, she was badgered by Mr. Prado at the beginning of her comments about the WASC report. She was told she could only ask questions and not make comments. In fact his statement was another violation of the Brown Act. As she began to speak, he asked why no teachers were speaking up. She politely stated they are scared of retribution and tried to continue. He continued questioning why teachers are afraid. She politely reminded him of his admonition of no comments and continued with her questions. I heard none of the school board members present make an attempt to stop the badgering.
Mr. Prado is no stranger to violations of the Brown Act. In 2010, as President of the School Board he received a four page letter from the Ventura County District Attorney outlining several violations that occurred under his watch and ordering corrections of the board procedures. As a board member for several years it is astounding that Mr. Prado continues to violate the rights of concerned members of the FUSD community.
Larry Ashim

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To the Editor:
Chevron Superfund update chapter two.
Well Fillmore this is a very bias update by Kathy on last month’s Chevron meeting. A Chevron representative gave a very nice long update on the time line and a power point on the groundwater and soil remediation of the Chevron superfund site. It was announced that the specific plan has been submitted to the City. Now they will continue to grade and work on drainage and the technical analysis is being worked on. There was a short discussion on various alternatives that may be looked into later and who owns the land. Later Chevron will install air sparging to which they stated “will not emit odor to nearby neighbors” let’s hope this is true.
A question came up about water going into the Pole Creek and we were told that the newly installed liner would not allow that to happen. What they did not plan on was the 2 days of heavy rain last month which dumped all the water that did not go through the liner but ran its natural path over their sand bags and silt fences and drained directly into the creek down by the rail road crossing. Yes, I do have pictures of this happening. Many questions were asked during the Q&A period of the meeting. Some of them were about cancers, not wanting any buildings, San Cayetano fault line, sealed manhole on Laurel Lane, plumes and what have residents been exposed to.
These meetings are to help the residents see why the Chevron project should go forward. I still feel that this project will not benefit our town but will lead to more empty buildings and lots around our town that we already have. I had a question that I recently asked a Chevron representative regarding statements that they have made at numerous meetings on how their project will not compete with what we currently have down town. I have explained that some of what they are proposing may kill our down town area. I looked over their Fillmore Works A Vision for the Future brochure and on page 2 it states “area along 126 and just north of the existing railroad tracks is anticipated for commercial uses such as restaurants, offices and retail shops”. Is this not what we have down town? I was given a nice email about how it would not be walk –in –trade like our current down town is. Does this just sound funny to me? I do not know how you have a restaurant that is not walk –in or a retail shop? If any one can explain this to me please let me know.
Oh, I finally heard at the meeting from one person who thinks this is a good idea for our town who I do not belive is working for Chevron or the City.
So if you would like to get more information for yourself I invite you to come on down this Thursday March 27, 2014 at 6p.m. @ the senior center to hear all the new info being given. This month I have been told we will have an EPA represenitve talking. The last 30 minutes of the meeting is for the public to ask questions or make comments.
Hope to see you there,
Kathy Pace

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To the Editor:
Parents/Coaches/Fillmore community:
Here is our link to the website, we changed it and enhanced the overall site. Tomorrow is our sign ups 12-2 341 Central Ave. Hopefully we can get that second football team the Gremlins (6 & 7) or Seniors (13 & 14) Hopefully by next week we can get some t shirts out and sell them with the proceeds going to the boys and girls!!!
http://www.socalfillmorebears.com/contact.html
Thank you,
Ram Medina
President/Head Coach SoCal Fillmore Bears
Head Coach JV Saint Bonaventure HS

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To the Editor:
My grandparents owned a boarding house in Fillmore during the 1920’s. The education offered to my father in Fillmore was almost identical to the education I received in a similar pioneer-town in the 1960’s. My daughters’ education began to be far more technical and world oriented than I experienced. Change from a local economy to a world community demands that we ensure all students are challenged and that all teachers are dedicated to continuous improvement.
I first heard about Russom Mesfun several months before I was hired by the Morgan Hill Unified School District to be the principal of Martin Murphy Middle School from 2006-2011. Community members were praising the changes occurring at Brittan Middle School and the positive climate on campus. Mr. Mesfun greeted staff, students, and parents as they entered campus each morning. He was highly visible throughout the day interacting with students and staff which was instrumental in ensuring a safe campus. He moved the English Language Learners from an isolated location on the campus to a center classroom to encourage their participation at school. He implemented the “best practices” for language learners, including how they were assigned into main stream classes. I remember thinking how much I would enjoy working with such a consummate professional. When I assumed my new assignment, we formed one of the most satisfying and dynamic collaborations I have experienced in my career.
Mr. Mesfun and I met regularly on our own time to address the needs of our two middle schools. Morgan Hill is a rural community that is growing into a suburb of the tenth largest city in the United States. Middle school students were not ensured equal opportunities between the two schools, and higher salaries in our surrounding districts regularly drained our professional talent. Mr. Mesfun and I collaborated with our district leadership to ensure our staffs received the finest professional development. We encouraged our staffs to engage all of the students through systematic review of student achievement, knowledge of students’ learning strengths and needs, attention to English language learning, special education and expanded services for high performing students including adding geometry to the middle school curriculum. Our state scores improved but more importantly, the value of the educational services we offered improved. Even local real estate agents communicated the value of our school district to buyers, and housing values increased over surrounding communities.
I understand that in any organization some individuals are concerned when professional expectations are consistent and are raised from past practices that seemed adequate at some point in time. At Britton Middle School, it was important to halt the practice of the teacher who was walking a classroom rabbit during class time, leaving the class unattended and untaught. It was important to require teachers to observe the computer agreement and to not build private business enterprises, or to access dating sites during classroom time. It was important that every classroom have a highly qualified teacher to present state adopted curriculum in a safe and encouraging setting. The former status quo at the school was well known by the students and by many in the community, but they felt powerless to address the issues stated above. Students, parents and staff that longed for a high performing school found an advocate in Mr. Mesfun. He addressed the barriers de-railing their education and ensured that policies and daily practice recognized the value of all students, regardless of race or economic status.
As principals, we are open to whatever statements individuals want to make to the public. We are legally unable to respond or explain our decision making process in a manner that would assist the public in evaluating the criticism we may receive, especially when the criticism centers on issues other than student achievement. We instead focus our energy to what is essential: the equal, and increasingly challenging, education of our young people so that they are equipped for a democratic process in a world-wide market. I was honored as Mr. Mesfun consistently remained in contact with me after he left Morgan Hill Unified School District. We shared what was working to improve student achievement. Mr. Mesfun’s schools consistently improved their academic achievements, including winning the honored Distinguished School award at his Oakland, California middle school location.
Fillmore High School is fortunate to have a principal dedicated to all students, supportive to all of his staff, certificated and classified, and tirelessly expands parent participation. He is a leader that consistently leads by example, never asking his staff to do anything that he is not already demanding of himself.
Barbara L. Nakasone, Ed.D.
Retired principal
California Middle Schools

 
Letters to the Editor
March 20, 2014

To the Editor:
I would like to thank the members of the Soroptimist International of Fillmore for their generous donation of $100 to help with this year Arts Show. The donation will go towards the expenses of putting on this years’ event “Euphoria” scheduled for Thursday April 10th at the Memorial Building.
On behalf of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Fillmore High School, thank you!
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Fillmore High School
Visual Arts Dept.
"ars longa, vita brevis"

***

To the Editor:
Fillmore Athletic Booster Club would like to express our gratitude to the people and businesses that helped make this year’s casino night a success. Piru Petroleum Club has been a continuous supporter of our events, and once again donated the use of their facility. Our casino table sponsors for the evening were as follows: Emerson Glaser, Somers Ranches, Tom Murphy Pump & Well Service, Dave Wright, David & Susan Dollar, Super Seal & Stripe, Rancho Temescal, Bobby McLain Construction, Cemex, Bob’s Radiator Shop, Doby Hagar Trucking, FHS Alumni Association, Scott & Laura Beylik, Baker Hughes, Ventura County Sheriffs Association, and Excalibur.
The donations we received, either in raffle prizes or volunteering time, helped ensure another successful year. A very sincere thank you to the following people and businesses:
Max & Michelle Pina, Santa Paula Fitness, Ari Larson, Tlaquepaque, Sespe Creek Organics, Mission Avocados, Soule Park, Twenty 88, Love 2 Dance, Shelley & Ray Huerta, Avery & Tracy Stewart, Julie Medina, Ana Duran, FHS Alumni Association, FitQuest, Elkins Ranch, Estrella Market, Megan & Matt VanWhy, Lani Farr, April Hastings, Fit & Fine Fitness, Design Duo, Oasis Tanning, Matt Suttle, Matt Dollar, James Cummings, Eddie Ortiz, Manual Ponce, FHS Cheer, FHS Athletic Department, Annette Cardona and Super A Foods.
Thank you to our dealers who graciously volunteered their time: RJ Stump, Bob Gradias, Tim Gurrola, Joe Aguirre, Jason Rangel, Amy Rangel, Laura Beylik, Nettie Farrar, Bill Herrera, and Charlie Hawk. Thank you to Jason Castro who donated his DJ talent and our bartenders Juan Ardon and Cesar Acosta. Thank you to the FHS coaches and athletes who worked hard selling tickets, and to our parents and community members who supported our event!
Congratulations to the winner of the iPad - Gil Escoto, and winner of the TV- Carlos Pacheco!
Fillmore Athletic Booster Club Board Members

***

To the Editor:
All of you have the opportunity to make a change. For you to sit back and put this on teachers and parents is a copout. Teachers and parents were not involved in the hiring. You were. And you played a large part in it. It's time for you to fix it! Not the teachers. Not the parents. You. The school board.
I can only assume that if you do nothing then that is an endorsement of Mr. Mesfun. I understand that there are old connections between the administration but this is a turning point that needs to be addressed.
Behavior displayed by Mr. Mesfun that is clearly spelled out in the lawsuit can not be tolerated. Do you all think he has changed?
Have you heard things? You have. And so have parents. And some have experienced things.
Letting him stay will not make this go away. And look what the result was. Behave in a manner that was highly inappropriate and cause a lawsuit and judgment for a school district to pay out and get hooked up with a principal job in Fillmore. Where is the motivation to change? He is being protected by the superintendent and by all of you if you choose to do nothing. Do you really want to be responsible for the next lawsuit? Do you care enough? Or will you sit there and hope it goes away?
We are looking to the board to step up. Someone to take the lead and stand up and do what is right.
I understand there is no prestige or thanks for doing the job. But if that is why you are there then you need to move on. You ran for it and were voted in by us. We expect you to do the right thing for the students. And you all know what that is. Take care of this before it is too late.
Thank you,
Darren Galarza

***

To the Editor:
In April of 2004, I was part of an interview panel looking for a principal for our middle school. Although there were candidates that were qualified, one in particular stood out above all others and that person was Russom Mesfun. Aside from his outstanding qualifications in education, experience, and background, I knew right away that he cared deeply and passionately about his students as he related a story about how he takes the time to ask the students questions about how they are, what they did over the weekend, or if they’d eaten breakfast that morning. The energy he exuded and his enthusiasm and love of his students, proved to me that he was the best candidate for the position.
I soon learned that providing the students with the best education possible and in an environment in which they feel safe were going to be his highest priorities. Mr. Mesfun not only talked the talk, but he walked the walk. Each day, before and after school he was outside greeting the students and waving at the parents. He made sure his campus was safe and that all students and parents felt welcomed. Mr. Mesfun treated each student with respect and celebrated their achievements very enthusiastically as if they were his very own children.
Mr. Mesfun does not tolerate bullying of any kind. If a student was scared, they would go directly to him and he would provide them with assurance and guidance and he would handle the situation immediately even if it meant working long in to the night. The students felt safe having Mr. Mesfun around. He was very approachable, friendly, and would often times join in and play soccer and basketball with them.
Mr. Mesfun enjoyed attending school-related events and he did this with great enthusiasm. While on vacation with his wife and mother in Europe, he traveled by train two hours to watch our school band play in a concert. All this before he began his position at our school.
In addition, Mr. Mesfun enjoyed celebrating his staff’s accomplishments and would often write about it in his monthly newsletter giving kudos and appreciation to staff members. As the person working closely with Mr. Mesfun, he made sure that I had food available to feed the staff at his weekly and monthly meetings. He would often say, “Let’s feed them; they’ve had a long day.” The genuine care and concern that he has for his staff and students is quite commendable.
Although I only had the opportunity to work with him for two years, I learned a lot about this man. He is driven to do the very best he can to make sure that his students receive an excellent education. He’s a man that sees no-color – we are all equal. He holds high expectations of his students and staff members alike. He wants us all to do our best leaving nothing to chance. He is focused and his vision involving education is clear and unadulterated. He is a man of his word and can be your biggest supporter. I am a firm believer in this man who is now referred to as Dr. Russom Mesfun. My former principal… my friend for life.
Christy Thompson
Administrative Secretary
Britton Middle School

***

To the Editor:
Russom Mesfun worked as my principal at Britton Middle School for 2 years. Little did I know we would quickly become kindred spirits because of our educational beliefs and values.
When I first saw Russom I couldn't believe the district would even hire a Black man! In a very short time, I would be awe struck that such a "status quo," "business as usual" district would even let him in the front door! You see, Morgan Hill Unified is conservative by nature, plays to the more affluent Anglo community mind-set, and pretty much has ignored the needs of its growing Latino population. Time for change was long overdue, and Russom wasted little time in setting certain things in order.
Russom's priorities for equity and expecting high standards for students and from teachers alike was the first big wave to stir the waters.
The school lay-out was the first ripple effect to take place. Russom moved the English Language Learner (ELL) portable classroom from the outskirts of mainstream classrooms, to the center of where all the other students carried out their school day. No more isolation, no more second class status for our Latino students. For goodness sakes, these students comprised close to 50% of the total school population! Russom wanted them to feel part of the school they attended. Not only that, he made sure teachers knew who they were teaching. He required every teacher to keep a binder on their desk that highlighted ELL student names in each class period, their respective classification level (1 through 5), and the appropriate ELL standard necessary to teach at their level of English acquisition. Teachers were aghast. This was unheard of and not well received by staff members. Feelings of resentment and animosity were secretly shared in the lunch room. This ugliness was unmasked when there was huge resistance to teaching and accepting English Language Learners in core curriculum classes. You may ask, how do I know all of this? I was the counselor at Britton who gladly followed Russom's directive to place ELL students equitably in classrooms to have equal access to core curriculum.
Russom's "stirring of the waters" went even further. He was very visible at ELAC (English Language Advisory Committee) meetings. Every time the parents of ELL students met Russom would be there to welcome them and delight them with his limited Spanish speaking skills. Russom initiated the first District ELL Redesignation Ceremony. The school superintendent attended. The parents had never received such favor from any school. This ceremony has become a tradition at each school site in the district since its inception by Russom.
I could go on about how Russom met with Latino students at lunch time and provided pizza so he could hear their opinion of how things worked for them at school. I could tell you how soccer games became a regular lunch and after school activity once Russom was principal. I could state in different ways that Russom was a champion of our minority students and their families. But I have already done that, haven't I? His vision for the marginal student was actualized while he was principal and is still carried on today. I am very proud to have had the opportunity to have worked with Mr. Mesfun. He still calls me periodically to see how things are going at his "old school." I am able to give him good reports.
Dr. Elena Hernandez
Retired Counselor of 38 years
Morgan Hill Unified School District

 
Letters to the Editor
March 13, 2014

To the Editor:
There have been several disturbing issues with the administration at Fillmore High School over the last couple years. Many people have contacted board members & felt that significant problems have not been sufficiently addressed, if addressed at all, let alone corrected. We have a wonderful community here in Fillmore & we want to back up our children & their rights to a good education & a safe & growing learning environment. We have some incredible staff at all of our FUSD school sites, yet some major issues go seemingly untouched. We need your help. Please get involved.
If you have any issues in our Fillmore Unified School District & you would like to share with others who want to stand up for what is right, please email your thoughts or concerns to: WeCareMatters@yahoo.com
Thank you.
WE CARE
~Bringing parents & community members together
in pursuit & support of the best education in our FUSD schools.
www.facebook.com/wecarecommunitynetworkfusd

 
Letters to the Editor
February 27, 2014

To the Editor:
Dear Editor and community,
I wanted to give you a little run down on the meeting last week that was held by the One Step Group. It was a great turnout and it was so good to see so many new faces becoming involved in this superfund site issue. We had people from a few newspapers, a few lawyers and representatives from a Congress Woman’s and a Senator’s offices, too bad no one from our own City Council or Planning Department were able to attend. It was a good opportunity for the community to get some questions answered and give feed back to Chevron and the EPA. Many of the near by neighbors oppose the project, which will involve developing the area for light industrial and business park, because of potential contaminated soil once again being disturbed and the unnecessary building of the site. I asked Chevron who they talked to, other than City officials, who gave them the indication that developing this site would be a good idea for our town. The answer was that they only talked with City officials. So Chevron did not communicate at all with the citizens to find their opinion on this project. They just came into our town and decided that this would be good idea whether we want it or not. Once again they are demonstrating that they are “not a good neighbor”. The EPA sent a representative who came with no information and would be reporting concerns to her higher ups. Not much help there. I asked if Chevron has a plan B if there plans are not approved, they do not. Why not? I propose that they finish the drainage required by the County, finish the instillation of the air sparging system to get the benzene out and then replant trees, native plants, install a fence around it and LEAVE. Chevron has left it abandoned for many years, so why the need to develop it now? Many people have told me that they feel that Chevron is just trying to build something on top of it to cover it up. I will be at the Re-development meetings to listen to Chevron try to prove to others why this is a good idea for our town. I am there to listen and give my in put as to why it is not best for our town. Please come voice your opinions during the public discussion time this Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 6 pm at the Fillmore Senior Center.
Thank you again,
Kathy Pace

***

To the Editor:
I would like to thank the members of the Lions Club of Fillmore for their generous donation of $250 to help with this year Arts Show. I would also like to thank the members of the Fillmore Womens Service Club for their generous donation of $200. The donations will go towards the expenses of putting on this years’ event “Euphoria” scheduled for Thursday April 10th at the Memorial Building.
On behalf of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Fillmore High School, thank you!
Rosalind Mitzenmacher
Fillmore High School

 
Letters to the Editor
February 20, 2014

To the Editor:
I write to you about the Fillmore High School Site Council for two reasons. First, having served on the SSC for 10 years, I am very familiar with how it should and has been conducted. Second, and most importantly, I speak because teachers and now parents fear retribution from the school administration if they speak out.
Under the current principal, Mr. Mesfun, the School Site Council is, like the other parts of the school, being mismanaged in many ways.
California Education Code Section 52850-52863 mandates that schools which receive state and federal funding must have a School Site Council (SSC). It is designed to ensure well over $200,000 are used to support school improvement.
The principal of each school must be the leader and conduit of information between the staff and various groups. But the current principal fulfills neither of these roles. Unlike five previous principals, Mesfun leaves meetings early and does not share information.
In January Mesfun agreed to inform teachers about the available funds. He never did, although, at the February meeting he implied the teachers had been informed. No teacher has heard anything about these available funds from Mesfun; no email was ever sent.
It does not matter whether this was intentional or an overlooked event that Mesfun did not inform the teachers. The principal must be dependable enough to follow through and do what he says he will. This is just another example lack of leadership and lack of trust. But the most egregious thing is that he misled the members of the School Site Council.
Mr. Mesfun’s treatment and disregard for the School Site Council and its members is poor, but it is far better than he treats the teachers and staff at Fillmore High School.
Sincerely,
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor Fillmore High School
MS Counseling & Guidance
MA School Administration

 
Letters to the Editor
February 13, 2014

To the Editor:
At a recent school meeting, Mrs. De La Piedra stated that Dr. Nishino, superintendent of schools, receives $40,000 per year. In fact, FUSD is paying him in excess of $140,000 per year. Nishino receives about $40,000 in base salary, $100,000 tax sheltered annuity, medical benefits, and use of a FUSD car. All this for working only three days a week. On top of that, he receives over $100,000 for retirement and received the largest lump sum retirement payout of any school administrator of the state: $420,000.
Sadly, all of this is legal. I question if the district is ashamed, and is this why the total compensation package has been hidden from the community. Where is the transparency they pride themselves on?
At this meeting, Mrs. De La Piedra said Nishino had done all that the school board has asked and she would like to see him stay. Did the school board ask Nishino to lower the school’s test scores? They fell by an unprecedented amount. Did the school board ask Nishino to lower the teacher and staff morale to deplorable levels throughout the district? Did the school board ask Nishino to stay in his office and not visit the schools to see what is going on? Did the school board ask Nishino to hire a high school principal who had been sued for harassment and lost the case? The school board only found about this after the fact. Did the school board ask Nishino to hide this from them?
Sincerely,
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor Fillmore High School
MS Counseling & Guidance
MA School Administration

 
Letters to the Editor
February 6, 2014

To the Editor:
Dear Fillmore Citizens,
Well here is the latest in the saga of the not needed Chevron development in Fillmore. We the neighbors have had a bit of a break over the winter from the dust noise and smell since they have stopped working. The plan is to start up again in the spring. So what do I have to complain about, well it has come to my attention that if the City Council does ok Chevron to be annexed (added to our city limits as they currently are not) into our city then the City will assume any and all problems that arise. I asked two different law firms to verify this and they said the information was correct. One firm stated “To build a business park on a contaminated site is a dangerous move, because it opens up liability to the City for future claims, including health claims” This would include the neighbors who have talked about laws suites against Chevron for health and other issues. Does our City really want all these problems? My next current issue is that Chevron has left a 20 foot hill over looking my yard and if plans go through then it will be graced with a building 15-25 feet high. Chevron said that they will landscape it to soften it. I don’t know of any trees that tall, with the exception of the sequoias which I do not belive live in our region. The neighbors to the south of me have a desert scape to look at and receive dust when we get high winds. Are these actions of “Good Neighbors”? I say they are not. Just a few weeks ago The VC Star reported on the earthquake that hit Fillmore and how we have recovered. One of the pictures shown is of the site where a building fell down and is STILL empty. It has been 20 years and still nothing is there and Chevron thinks that their Business Park & Industrial park will do better. We don’t need it. We don’t need another vacant lot in town, worse yet vacant buildings. Who would be doing the up keep on such a place? The city is having trouble keeping up with what we already have. My Last question is why does the City feel this is a good idea? Can anyone answer this question? New jobs are what Chevron says they want to help bring to Fillmore, but there is no guarantee this will happen. So again, why is this thought to be a good idea? Some of you don’t have an issue with any of this one way or the other, so I ask you to help us, the neighbors who live with this mess day in and day out when work is being done. Help us get this stopped so that we can have our lives and homes back to normal without fear for our family’s health and well being.
Ways to help us is by contacting the Fillmore City Council and letting them know what you think about this information and the project and/ or sign a petition that is going around town by The Fillmore Superfund Watch Committee:fillmoreswc@gmail.com
Call me if you would like more information.
Thank you for your time again
Kathy Pace
Fillmore

 
Letters to the Editor
January 30, 2014

To the Editor:
I commend the members of the Fillmore USD Board of Education for hiring the Cosca Group to search for the next superintendent. After two disastrous superintendents, it is time for proven leadership.
Having visited with and listened to the two representatives from the Cosca Group, I was impressed with their understanding of the problems in the district and the type of dedicated leadership needed to restore trust and faith in the school district.
This is money well spent. FUSD needs expert help; and from what I observed, I believe that the Cosca Group will indeed do a complete background check to insure the new superintendent has not been sued for harassment, had questionable financial dealings, or withheld or skewed information from his or her supervisors or previous school boards.
FUSD needs a superintendent who is experienced with all levels of education especially at the high school level. Most districts are judged by the quality of their high school(s). He or she needs to come with a framework how to improve FUSD, not a pre-determined plan. To create a plan for success, he or she must want to work with the staff at all schools.
It is imperative that the new superintendent is loyal to the community, and is someone who rejects cronyism recognizing that the Fillmore community has talented and caring potential staff members. New staff members can and should be hired from the community when they are equally or better prepared for a job.
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor Fillmore High School
1991 MS Counseling & Guidance from California Lutheran University
2003 MA School Administration from Azusa Pacific University

***

To the Editor:
Re: CENTENNIAL
Many of you will remember in 1988 the big Centennial Celebration with Parade, BBQ, and Logo. That was for the establishment in 1888 of the town, named after Jerome A. Fillmore, regional General Superintendent of Southern Pacific Railroad.
The Centennial of 2014 is for Incorporation of the City in 1914. The incorporation was a greatly debated issue for varying town leaders and residents. But after 26 years, incorporation became a reality.
If you are interested in more early local history, you are encouraged to contact the Fillmore Historical Museum/Society, at 350 Main Street, Fillmore, CA, 93015, (805) 524-0948.
Sincerely,
Kathie Briggs
Former President, Fillmore Historical Society
And Chair, 1988 Centennial Coordination Committee for the Fillmore Historical Society

***

To the Editor:
Although we’re a month into the new year (and since I was on vacation in January), I’d like to take a look back at last year and reflect on the good and the bad, the pluses and the minuses, that we saw in 2013.
On the plus side, we saw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down. Obviously, problems still remain in those countries, but far fewer American lives will be lost, and that’s good. On the minus side, we saw the administration open up combat roles in the military to women. Now we not only have the unseemly prospect of women leaving their children to go to war, but we have the equally unseemly prospect of women serving in Marine and Army infantry units. One wonders what the President and others in his administration are thinking about. But one doesn’t have to wonder long. They have their agenda to force on our country, and the practical and moral ramifications of their actions evidently don’t matter. On a moral level, it’s a man’s duty to defend his wife and his children and his country, not a woman’s. On a practical level, where is a woman to find privacy when she’s on patrol with her unit? Or is a woman’s privacy another one of those archaic, patriarchal ideas that we have to do away with?
On a related issue, on the plus side, voices were raised to address the rising number of sexual offenses occurring in our military. On the minus side, our President and others in Washington promote policies that encourage such offenses. They put 19 and 20 year old men and women on ships together, in land-based units together, and in military academies together and then wonder why there are sexual problems. One doesn’t have to be a genius to figure it out. One has to wonder what world the President and others who support these policies live in. Certainly not the real one.
On the plus side, our country was more welcoming to returning veterans than at times in the past (I’m thinking specifically of Viet Nam, the war of my generation). Most of our citizens are more patriotic in this regard, honoring our veterans and the flag they served under. On the minus side, we still see fellow Americans showing disrespect for the flag. It happened in 2013 right here in Fillmore. Jennifer Fitzpatrick, an English teacher at our high school, dropped an American flag on the floor of her classroom and then stepped on it - evidently, to teach the students in her class. Teach them what? That it’s OK to step on the flag that a number of Fillmore men died for? I still find it almost unbelievable that she wasn’t at least officially reprimanded for what she did. But not a word. After all, there might be trouble with the teachers’ union, or there might even be a lawsuit, and we certainly wouldn’t want that. Who cares what the children learned from her actions. I thought that part of Fillmore High School’s mission is to help mold our young people into good American citizens. What good American citizen throws our country’s flag on the floor and steps on it? I think back to my days in grade school, junior high, and high school. Would any of my teachers have thrown our American flag on the floor and stepped on it? They wouldn’t have even dreamed of doing such a thing. There are some things you just don’t do. Teachers don’t come to school drunk or high on drugs. Teachers don’t curse or use vulgar language in their classrooms. Teachers don’t moonlight as prostitutes. And teachers don’t throw an American flag on the floor and step on it. That’s what my teachers would have thought. Evidently, things have changed, and not for the better.
2013 is gone, and 2014 is ahead of us. Hopefully, we’ll see some positive changes in the coming year - nationally and locally. We pray practically every Sunday in our church that we will.
Rev. Leslie R. Lanier, Pastor, Wayfarer’s Chapel Lutheran Church
Fillmore

 
Letters to the Editor
January 23, 2014

To the Editor:
For the last three years FUSD leadership has operated in a toxic mode which is poison to school improvement and staff morale.
Recently NPR broadcast a report on the Army and toxic leadership. This report emphasized the same issues are faced in the civilian world. U.S. Army Doctrine Publication 6-22, details what toxic leadership means for the first time.
"Toxic leadership is a combination of self-centered attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization, and mission performance... Toxic leaders consistently use dysfunctional behaviors to deceive, intimidate, coerce, or unfairly punish others to get what they want for themselves... Prolonged use of negative leadership to influence followers undermines the followers' will, initiative, and potential and destroys unit morale."
The Fillmore School Board is currently searching for a new Superintendent of Schools. It MUST choose a leader who is knowledgeable, competent and collaborative. This new leader must have the ability to earn the trust of the Fillmore teachers, staff, parents and students and repair the damage done to FUSD over the past few years. As the FUSD Board is looking for new leadership, I recommend that they ask the subordinates of potential and current leaders to evaluate their supervisors — anonymously as the US Army is doing. As the NPR report states, “Toxic leaders were also good at snowing their superiors — so they kept getting promoted.” That is why input from subordinates must be sought and heeded.
http://www.npr.org/2014/01/06/259422776/army-takes-on-its-own-toxic-lead...
Karen Ashim
Retired Head Counselor, Fillmore High School
MS Counseling & Guidance
MA School Administration

 
Letters to the Editor
December 19, 2013

To the Editor:
Dear residents of Fillmore.
The FUSD School Board is searching for a new Superintendent of Schools. What sort of person do you want to fill that important position?
Do you want a Superintendent who seeks out the best people to fill senior positions such as assistant superintendents and school principals? Or are you satisfied with a Superintendent who hires people with very questionable records?
Do you want a Superintendent who looks within the local area to fill important positions? Or are you satisfied with a Superintendent who brings in his cronies from everywhere but the Fillmore area?
Do you want a Superintendent who routinely visits the schools, finds out what is going on, and establishes a rapport with staff and students? Or are you satisfied with someone who never leaves his office?
Do you want a Superintendent who seeks input from the public on important issues? Or are you satisfied with someone who violates the California Education Code by ignoring requests that items be placed on the school board agenda?
Now is the time for you to speak out and tell the School Board what you expect from the new Superintendent. Request to be part of selection process and ask to be on the selection committee.
The school system is the most important asset of the Fillmore community. Potential new businesses and families judge the community on the schools and make decisions based on what they see.
Get involved, go to school board meetings, and visit your schools.
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor Fillmore High School
MS Guidance and Counseling
MA School Administration

 
Letters to the Editor
December 12, 2013

To the Editor:
I was delighted when the College Board recognized Fillmore for its Advanced Placement (AP) District Honor Roll. This is actually a Fillmore High School award.
The students from the Class of 2013 and their teachers earned this award. Over the three year period, for which FHS was evaluated, these students took the majority of the tests. I know that as juniors several students earned AP Scholar acknowledgment, and the majority of them will earn AP Scholar with Honors or Distinction for their senior year.
As much as the current district administrators say that the counselors and teachers do not push our students, I believe this award vindicates the FHS staff.
Under the leadership of Mr. Wilber, the previous principal, teachers were encouraged to participate in AP training so the courses are approved by the College Board. Mr. Wilber created master schedules where classes are available to all students.
The AP teachers at FHS are Mrs. Francis, Mr. Bauer, Mr. Anderson, Mrs. Juarez, Ms. Kim Tafoya, Mr. Steven Kandel, Ms. Huxtable, Mr. Sebek, Mr. Dollar, and Ms. Hoffman.
The counseling team for the Class of 2013 at FHS headed by myself, which included Mrs. Palacio, Mrs. Wyand, and Mrs. Larin worked very hard to instill confidence into the students that they are capable of enrolling in AP courses.
Congratulations to those talented AP Scholars, and the FHS teachers and counselors who worked so hard with them.
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor, Fillmore High School
MS Counseling and Guidance
MS School Administration

 
Letters to the Editor
November 28, 2013

To the Editor:
The Holiday season is around the corner, and the PNCinc. is gearing up for our 36th Annual Christmas Parade and Festival in Piru. We are seeking sponsorship and donations for the costs associated with hosting this very important community event! These are the activities that still need sponsorship.
Toys For Tots 300.00
Food Baskets 400.00
Entertainment 800.00
Portable toilets 200.00
Advertising 200.00
Security 200.00
Cleaning crew 250.00
Parade 325.00
Raffle/Prizes/games 400.00
Decorations/lights 300.00
Generous donors like you are the key to our success and make it possible for the PNCinc. to successfully fulfill our mission to promote better living conditions, better education, improved housing, and a greater participation in community affairs by the people of Piru and vicinity.
Our 501C3 Non-profit organization tax identification number is 95-3122877. Payments can be cash or check. Let us know if you prefer a W_9, and/or a receipt.
Your organization will be recognized for your generous support during the holiday season and we look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sincerely,
C. King
President
Board of Directors, 2013 - 2015
C. S. King ~ Madame President, Lupe Hurtado ~ Madame Vice President, Yvonne Gonzalez ~ Madame Secretary Jazmin Gonzalez ~ Madame Treasurer

 
Letters to the Editor
November 21, 2013

To the Editor:
“The Board of Education has been elected by the community to provide leadership and citizen oversight of the district.” This is the opening statement of the FUSD bylaws. The most important job of a school board member is to select a superintendent with absolute integrity. The superintendent must live and work following an ethical code of conduct.
The superintendent’s job is to run the district, but it is the school board’s job to ensure the district’s policies and procedures are followed. The board must not be misled by a charming and persuasive superintendent, who knows the educational code better than board members. Members must be vigilant that their natural tendency to trust the superintendent does not cause them to back away from their duty of providing leadership and oversight.
On September 24, I requested math be placed on the agenda. It should not take a letter from Ventura County Special Assistant District Attorney, Michael Schwartz, to ensure its addition to the board agenda. He reminded Dr. Nishino about the California Education Code Section 35145.5 “that members of the public be able to place matters directly related to school district business on the agenda of the school district governing board meetings.”
In district policy, it is the president of the board and the superintendent who decide what is placed on the agenda. The California Education Code supersedes school board policy.
I believe that Dr. Nishino has intentionally misguided the FUSD school board on this and other agenda issues.
Karen Ashim
Retired Head Counselor, Fillmore High School
MS Counseling & Guidance
MA School Administration

***

To the Editor:
I think a new bike track is great, but only if the City does not have to put any money into the construction. Two Rivers Park has not been completed---we are still waiting for the tennis courts and parking near the playground equipment on the back side and several other things on the drawing board. Let’s finish up the current plans before we expand into any costly new activities. (Since I live near the park, I can assure everyone, the skateboard park is being used every day, and I am sure the bike track will be also. Certainly the exercise is good for the kids too.)
I hope a grant provides money to make this improvement but we should not use City funds for it until the balance of the park plans are completed.
Marie Wren
Fillmore

 
Letters to the Editor
November 14, 2013

To the Editor:
The Fillmore Lion’s Club extends a big thank you to the community for their support of our annual Lion’s Club Enchilada Dinner.
We served over 550 dinners, and through the community's support the money raised will go back to support our many projects that makes our city great.
Brian Wilson
Lion’s Club Secretary

 
Letters to the Editor
November 07, 2013

To the Editor:
Accreditation by WASC is a crucial milestone for every high school in California. Lack of accreditation can have disastrous consequences for each student who attends that school. Those students may not be eligible for college. Their credits may not be accepted by another school should they choose to transfer.
Fillmore High School will be evaluated by WASC for accreditation in the spring of 2015. Will it be ready? Apparently not. The research and writing for the evaluation is a year long process. All research, writing, publication, and mailing of the Self-Study report will need to be completed before winter break 2014. Has the process been started? No!
I know the amount of work and commitment by the staff that WASC Self-Study takes. As an assistant principal in 2002, I coordinated and wrote the Self-Study Report. FHS earned a 6 year accreditation.
Today a 6 year accreditation is no longer possible. Why? Principal Mesfun requested a year's delay in scheduling the evaluation and eliminated programs.
An essential part of the WASC evaluation is showing that the school has coordinated programs and collaborative teams working for student improvement. Programs, such as RtI and the tutorial program, were implemented by the former principal and staff over several years. Since Mesfun began at FHS, he unilaterally eliminated all these successful programs and processes. Now there are none.
FHS teachers are hard working and dedicated. They need a new principal capable of providing leadership and successful programs for students. This needs to be done now.
Sincerely,
Karen Ashim, Retired Head Counselor Fillmore High School
MS Counseling & Guidance
MA School Administration

***

To the Editor and Fillmore Community,
I am once again writing to inform you all of my recent Chevron dealings. As you may or may not know Chevron is planning to build an industrial park, business/ commercial park and 14 acres open space for our town. I have problems with this idea for a number of reasons.
1) Fillmore is having a hard time supporting the business in town currently and adding yet another one of these facilities may take away from a struggling down town that we are always trying to jump start and keep alive as apparent by the empty buildings.
2) The Industrial park is in my opinion in a poor location and will only be a nuisance to the near by neighbors with the possible noise, evening lights and random persons in the area. We also have a few of these industrial parks currently empty around town waiting for business. Why do we need more?
3) I was told that the project would bring in jobs and income to our town. Can Chevron and the city officials guarantee both or will we be left with more empty buildings around our town?
4) The open space is intended for recreational use as hiking trails but who really wants to hike in soil that has contaminants still in it. Chevron has done there clean up yes, but as stated in one of their hand outs “they have been reduced to levels that are safe for populations, including children”. I would feel much better hiking in an area such as this if the chemicals were eliminated and not just reduced.
I recently went to a meeting this past month and it was there that 35+ neighbors from two areas of town affected by this project were visibly and vocally upset with the project. People were upset with possible chemical exposure in soil contamination and dust contamination. Others were upset that some neighbors received $100.00 Vons gift cards as “a token of our appreciation and thanks for your patience and understanding during our restoration activities “.while others did not receive any thing even though they have been unconvinced as well. I for one gave mine back because it just did not sit well with me. It was a night of many accusations and a few tears. The anger in the room was uncomfortable and very raw but I felt it needed to be seen so that Chevron would see, know and hear that not every one in town especially the near by neighbors are not fine with this idea of theirs.
Before the meeting I felt very alone in this matter but now I feel that now I have a little bit of a voice. Chevron’s property in not even in our city limits and can not do any thing unless we change our boundaries for them. Now you may say ”Oh Kathy let it go, just let them build”. Well I will say to you,” today it is my back yard that is now being infringed upon and you may be next. If you live next to a hill side or any open space with a view the city may want to change the boundaries on you too. I want the best for our city but I do not feel that this is a good plan for our town.
Thank you again for letting me chew your ear off and hope that you all will consider the things that I have said and maybe investigate the project to see if you think it is a good idea for our town.
Sincerely
Kathy Pace